STARR Program for Teens

The STARR Program for Teens

Succeed Through Accountable Responsible Resolve

“To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path and don’t worry about the darkness,
for that is when the stars shine brightest.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

CARTE first developed the STARR Program in 1991 to provide a lively and practical personal development forum for the healing of abuse for teenage girls, ages fourteen to eighteen. Many of the young women that graduated from the program were in the Social Services system and had been removed from their homes due to their abuse. We are a grass roots organization; therefore the Board of Directors of CARTE actively participates in raising funds to provide the STARR Program.

STARR is a two-part accelerated, experiential program that addresses specific issues prevalent in this population of high-risk teens.

Some of the program outcomes from previous groups have been as follows:

  • Developed confidence and self-esteem
  • Stopped abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Decreased suicidal thoughts and self-mutilation
  • Reduced risk of early pregnancies
  • Shifted perspective from being a victim to becoming responsible, functioning, young women
  • Understood the power of changing their view of themselves in order to accomplish their goals
  • Experienced a range of strategies and principles of leadership to influence and impact their world in a positive way
  • Served in partnership and in community with each other and developed into a high-functioning peer team
  • Re-defined themselves as strong, pure, vital young women through their resolve and committed action


STARR Basic Seminar – Part 1

This three-day course provides an opportunity for participating teens to tell their stories and to assess their perceptions of themselves. It begins with building trust with the facilitators and the all-female volunteer staff, as well as the rest of their group. They are given a specific set of ground rules to follow during the three days, with the understanding that any violation may mean they cannot continue to participate. It also gives the facilitators the time to assess each of the teens for preparedness and willingness to participate in the advanced emotional work they will experience in the STARRCamp. Since this work is experiential in nature, they must be ready to personally and responsibly take it on. They will choose a team accountability buddy and be assigned to a staff partner to monitor their progress.

During this process, the facilitators implement various exercises that drive the message of responsibility, accountability and commitment as the key to transforming the teens’ lives in a positive way… in spite of what happened to them. The abuse was an event in their lives; what happened to them isn’t ‘who they are’ and doesn’t need to determine their future …they can choose differently.

CARTE’s vision is to be a bold interruption in the cycle of the abuse and exploitation of children. Through CARTE’s accelerated STARR Program for high-risk teenage girls, they can re-define themselves as strong, pure, vital, young women rather than victims of a shameful past. This program provides the teens with essential tools, so they can begin to initiate positive change in their lives. All graduates will have the opportunity to continue their personal development through the STARRCamp.

STARR Camp – Part 2

Starr Camp

The CARTE STARR Camp is an intensive, experiential course held at a facility to house and feed a minimum of 25 young women over a seven-day period. Three to five teens are assigned to each volunteer staff. All those on staff have had child abuse background checks and have been fingerprinted. The staff completes a rigorous training to prepare them to serve these teens in a way that maintains a ‘safety first’ interactive environment. A nurse is available onsite throughout the course. Through the teens’ active participation, they will learn to interrupt their own negative thoughts and unproductive patterns and develop the confidence to step forward into the light of a new life. This is where the real work begins.

The building blocks of the STARR Program begins with taking the teens from a self-centered focus, to developing a trusting relationship with one other person, their accountability buddy, and then expanding this relationship into a more inclusive, cohesive, effective team. During the seven days, the teens will begin to reassess their distorted beliefs and perceptions of themselves, practice supporting and being responsible to a buddy and contribute to a team wherein a healthy sense of community is developed. The significance of this process is to prepare them to break through the barriers that keep them from being significant, functioning women of purpose.

CARTE brings in a team of modeling experts to teach a one-day self defense course in which the teens learn to stand up and defend themselves, as well as learn the techniques of self-defense. It is at this stage in the course they test their emotional growth. The modeling exercises show them how to set clear, healthy boundaries, face their fears and, with an assertive voice, say ‘ NO ‘ to abuse .

In order to prepare the teens for their next physical challenge, their team members support each other in developing a forwarding personal contract that describes ‘who they really are’, their life purpose and a plan for success. It is at this central point they declare and stand in their authenticity.

In this next segment, the teens declare, through their contracts, how they will participate in life from this point forward. They reclaim their ‘lost innocence’, they state their intention and immediately have an opportunity to ‘ walk the talk ‘. The first high ropes event starts with climbing a pole to get to the top, standing in their declaration and leaping for the trapeze (their dreams). The second exercise is about being in 100% partnership with their buddies. They stand on cables above the ground, facing each other, clasping each other’s hands above their heads, leaning into each other to be 100% trusting, supportive and committed to the other. As one graduate said to another on a high-v event, ” We are doing this…I love you.” This dynamic day concludes with a crescendo, ‘all for one, one for all’ , and involves the whole team. In this exercise they learn what it takes to be a vital member of a team, where every person matters. A truly winning team is one in which each member must be in contribution to and support of the others.

On the last physical exercise, the teens set a challenging personal goal and break through the fears that hold them back from attaining it…by breaking through a board. The STARR Camp is the practice arena in which the teens re-invent themselves, recognize their unique gifts and strengths and courageously commit to their dreams. The true measure of their success at camp will be demonstrated in what they bring of themselves and the lessons learned into their personal lives. Their willingness to be accountable, to be responsible, and have the resolve to go after what matters to them, sets the stage for both personal success.

For 60 days after graduating from STARR Camp and through the teens’ resolve and ‘personal ownership’, they are ‘coached to excellence’ by trained and dedicated mentors. This segment of the program is all about results; they are consistently asked “what did you promise, what did you deliver?” They set three smart goals, physical/health, financial/career and relationship to be completed by the end of the program. Throughout the coaching time their coach/mentors follow up on their progress with weekly telephone conferences.

One last weekend they are brought together once again culminating in a formal dinner held in their honor. They are the ‘starrs’. They are provided formal gowns, they get their hair, nails and make-up done and are escorted to the event by limousine. It is here that their triumphs over their adversities are acknowledged and celebrated and both personal and community achievements are recognized. These courageous young women are illuminated in an outpouring of love and support from the staff, CARTE board and community leaders. They are now equipped to bring the value of the STARR Program into their day to day lives.

As a past STARR graduate’s heartfelt expression states:
“I am now 30 years old and I have a great job and great friends. My relationships are healthy and I no longer live my life as a victim. I remember times when I used to think about my abuse on a daily basis. I used to want to escape and I always felt alone. It is not like that for me any longer. My life is no longer defined by my abuse, it is defined by my new experiences as I live life as it is today; it is defined by joy, fun, love, healthy relationships and passion. CARTE was my light and lifeline and I am now a thriving survivor.”


Letter of Reference